# LGBT



Resources for Iowans concerned about monkeypox

The state of Iowa has opened a call line to answer questions about monkeypox, and continues to limit vaccinations to groups most at risk of contracting the virus.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (the recently merged Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health) has a call line (515-725-2081) open during regular business hours, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Questions related to monkeypox can also be emailed to the department: monkeypoxvaccine@idph.iowa.gov.

As of August 17, Iowa had fifteen confirmed monkeypox cases, eight of them in the central region that includes Polk County. According to HHS public information officer Sarah Ekstrand, all known Iowa cases involved adults; “At this time, the risk of monkeypox to children and adolescents in the United States is low.”

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Three Iowans in Congress support federal guarantee of marriage equality

Three of Iowa’s four U.S. House members were part of the bipartisan majority that voted to guarantee same-sex marriage rights across the country.

Every House Democrat, including Iowa’s Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed on July 19 by 267 votes to 157 (roll call). So did 47 Republicans, including Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). Representative Randy Feenstra (IA-04) joined the majority of House Republicans in opposing the legislation.

The bill repeals the federal Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996 to protect states from having to recognize same-sex marriages, and to define marriage in federal laws and regulations as between a husband and wife. The Respect for Marriage Act also prohibits states from refusing to recognize any marriage due to the “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin” of the individuals involved.

House leaders brought the bill to the floor in response to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in a concurring opinion to the Dobbs case that having overturned Roe v. Wade, the court should reverse other precedents. Among other cases, Thomas mentioned the 1965 Griswold opinion establishing a right to contraception and the 2015 Obergefell ruling on marriage equality. Like the Roe and Griswold decisions, the Obergefell majority relied on a legal analysis that recognizes some liberty interests (like privacy and the right to marry), even though the Constitution does not specifically mention those rights.

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How did we get here? An analysis of the Dobbs decision

Bleeding Heartland user “Bill from White Plains” is an Iowa attorney.

Now that five U.S. Supreme Court justices have overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent when deciding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I thought it might be helpful to do a deep dive into the legal bases for that decision. Most folks see this as a “results-oriented” ruling, “judicial activism” done by “unelected judges” superseding “the will of the people.”

As with most Supreme Court cases, the popular press has focused on the result (ending any federal constitutional right to an abortion), rather than the legal framework. More often than not, our discourse parrots what we read and hear from the media. It is important to learn how the Supreme Court majority reached this outcome, because for the rest of our lives, that legal framework may impact civil rights most of us have taken for granted for decades.

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Republicans want to kill us. Democrats need to talk about it

C.J. Petersen chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Stonewall Caucus.

When my husband and I walk into a restaurant in rural Iowa and sit down, nobody assumes there’s something going on between us. I’m a heavyset, cisgender white guy with a beard. More than once, people have assumed we were brothers or–to my chagrin–that I was his father (only six years separate us, by the way, but at 32, I’m blessed by genetics with salt-and-pepper hair).

Because of this dynamic, I know that I enjoy an immense amount of privilege to be able to live authentically and thrive in rural western Iowa. I know this, too, from listening to the experiences of Black, brown, transgender, and non-binary folks, who tell me how they fear for their safety when they visit my part of Iowa (we’re not yet two years removed from having been represented by Steve King). Their experiences are valid, and none of us is safe while any of our lives are threatened.

As chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Stonewall Caucus, a constituency group of LGBTQ+ folks who guide the party’s positions on issues that affect our community, my job is to elect Democrats–specifically, Democrats who support LGBTQ+ people and act as allies in our continued fight for equality and justice.

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A call for solidarity with Iowa's LGBTQ+ community

Ryan Melton is the Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

Here is the speech I delivered at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention on June 18. (You can listen to the audio here.)

“My brother posted a reflection on his life journey on Facebook yesterday, that was really compelling to me, so I wanted to focus on this today. He is 26, one of my best friends, and he’s trans.

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School "transparency" is a cruel hoax

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher, and for 30 years he was a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

The Kansas City Star’s editorial board warned its readers on June 2 that “the arch conservative Liberty Alliance has created a Woke Heat Map.” The website is an interactive map of Missouri with dots representing “hot spots” where, as the Alliance claims, “the Woke Agenda … is permeating.” 

The Alliance is a faction of ultra-right zealots who use a website to undermine democracy—and raise money from an easily duped clientele. The Springfield (MO) News-Leader reports one hotspot in its area, and six in St. Louis, three in Kansas City, and one in Columbia with alleged “woke agendas” — “where toddlers are groomed with sexually explicit books.” This was in the first week.

It’s fraud. In nearly all cases, the New-Leader says, the documentation used to designate a “woke” hotspot is based on a tweet, column, or article from a conservative leader or platform.

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